Let’s start with the basics: Miami, Florida has beaches. Beaches are beautiful. Florida is vibrant.
But, let’s dive a little deeper: in addition to white sand, turquoise water, and Art Deco buildings in pleasing pastel colors, Miami is a bustling, multicultural epicenter full of music, art, and flavor.
Emiliano, trumpeter of Xperimento, a multicultural and cross-genre band, explains, “These cultures from Cuba, Argentina, Columbia, and America bring what they have to offer to Miami, and the outcome is a beautiful collision of one unique sound.” Emiliano speaks from experience: the Miami-based band blends worldly sounds from cumbia to salsa—two staples of Latino dance music—with elements of funk, ska, R&B, and hip hop. And while all of these elements together create a modern sound, their roots are a crash course in musical (and geopolitical) history.
If Latin sounds are the heartbeat of Miami, Emiliano considers Calle Ocho—a yearly music festival—to be the “main vein.” Calle Ocho is the largest Hispanic festival in the world. With over one million visitors every year, the festival stretches 28 city blocks in Little Havana and boasts 30 stages of live entertainment. As you walk through the streets you'll be met with local food vendors, domino players, artists, and dancers.
Popular bars and eateries lining Calle Ocho
The Rhythm of Little Havana
Outside of Calle Ocho, it’s not uncommon to take a dance break while casually strolling through the streets of Little Havana. The city soundscape is comprised of rhythmic street performers who bring sounds and instruments from all over the world—Cuban conga drums, Haitian zouk, Brazilian samba, and Caribbean reggae are a small sample of what you might hear at any given moment. After stopping to samba with a beautiful dancer, Emiliano explains, “That’s what happens here in Miami. The way we speak, dance, walk, and cook is a reflection of another part of the world we’ve come from to bring the dance floor to life here, in America.”
Dancing in the streets of Little Havana
In addition to world-class music and dancing, Miami (along with Switzerland and Hong Kong) hosts Art Basel, an international art fair where collectors, gallerists, and artists come together to support and nurture the art world. With more galleries popping up than ever before, the Miami art scene is thriving. Many local artists draw inspiration from the vibrancy of the colorful city—another nod to its strong Latin American roots—and Xperimento partners with these artists to create their album covers and artwork. Collaborations are important here, as artists who are fluent in the language of Miamian culture heavily influence each other’s work. As Emiliano describes it, “I think the aesthetic of the city alone is very colorful, and that informs the art and the music that comes from it.”
The Local's South Beach
Immerse yourself in local street art and be sure to check out the murals in Wynwood. “You'll find newer bars and venues popping up. It's considered the new nightlife of Miami. It’s the place to go party, have a good time, and let your problems go.” And instead of cliché beach drinks (lovable in their own right), Wynwood is known for their expanding breweries and award-winning craft beer scene.
Xperimento, taking their music to the city
Miami's Comfort Food
Another drink Miami is known for? Cuban coffee. Members of Xperimento have been coming to Versailles, a famous family-owned restaurant, for as long as they can remember. Versailles is a 50-year-old institution, and for good reason: with Cuban American food so authentic, the large restaurant effortlessly manages to make people feel like they’re sharing an intimate meal at home.
As they talk over lunch, Nicole—the third-generation owner—shares, “Everyone feels like this is their second home. This is where they come to mourn, to celebrate, to eat at all hours of the day, so it's really special to be a part of something like that.” Emiliano quickly weighs-in on the celebrations he’s seen take place by the restaurant, “Everybody knows, they bring their pans and pots whenever the Miami Heat wins. They always come celebrate here.”
After filling up on lechon asado, Cuban grilled pork, a few sips of strong coffee will perk you right back up and you’ll be ready to hit the streets with a newfound Miamian energy. “At night, when it gets a little party vibe, you'll pass by a cigar spot and you're gonna see drums and people just dancing in the street and just having fun.”
Miami, Florida is constantly buzzing, its residents full of energy and life. So, yes. You could come here for a scenic beach vacation—but why would you want to stop there?